The Gators. Don't lie. This is the game you have had circled since the NCAA brackets came out. To be the best, you've got to beat the best, and here is our chance right here. It ain't gonna be easy. Matchup-wise, Florida is a nightmare matchup for us. But Florida has looked complacent and vulnerable lately. And we have more talent than Butler or Purdue. We can beat them, but we'll have to have a very good game to do so.
For most, the Gators should need no introduction. If you've seen ESPN in the last year and have a pulse, you know about Florida's starting lineup. All experienced, all good, and all NBA-bound. Its quite a formidable bunch. And the height advantage that they have will be HUGE.
Lets start with that height advantage. Al Horford will be their center. He's 6'10", 245 lbs. He's a great back to the basket scorer, averaging about 14 pts a game on 62% shooting. We'll stick Maarty on him, but its not a great matchup. Eventually, Joevan Catron will probably spend most of the time on him. He also causes problems on the defnsive end with 66 blocked shots, and gets 9.5 boards a game. If we rebound as poorly as we did against UNLV, Horford could get 20 boards agaist us.
Their other big guy is Joakim Noah, who the ugliest guy in college basketball east of Lorenzo Mata. Probably the best comparison I have for him is LaMarcus Aldridge. He's 6'11", but not really a back to the basket guy. He runs the floor, scores in transition, and has a variety of moves facing the basket. I think that he's a better matchup for Maarty because he doesn't have the bulk that Horford does. He's also a shotblocker and great rebounder, so boxing him out is imperative. Horford and Noah also make it more difficult for Brooks and Porter to penetrate because of their shotblocking ability.
At 6'9", Corey Brewer is their small forward type player. The first thing to note is that he's a great perimeter defender, so if he's guarding Malik or Bryce, they'll have a tough time getting open looks. He's also someone that Malik won't be able to punish down low. He's also a very capable offensive player, both from three and in the paint, and is a decent rebounder as well.
Lee Humphrey is the shooting guard, and pretty much all he does is shoot threes. Think a much better version of Ryan Appleby. To give you an idea, he has 12 free throw attempts in 1100 minutes played. In short, you've got to stay on him. Threes are pretty much all he does, and he shoots 45% from the arc.
Finally, their point guard is Taurean Green. He's another very balanced guy. He scores (13 ppg), distributes (135 assists), and gets quite a number of steals. He can penetrate and shoot from outside, so you can't rest on your laurels on defense.
There is nowhere that we have and advantage in this game. The guards may be a wash, but the Gators have a huge advantage down low. We have to play a very good game to make up for this.
THINGS WE MUST DO TO WIN
- Rebounding will be key. We allowed mediocre rebounding teams like Winthrop and UNLV to get a ton of offensive rebounds against us. If Florida gets 17 offensive boards, we lose by 20. There has to be a max effort to box out on every shot.
- We have to take care of the ball. Again, turnovers allowed UNLV to get back into a game we should have won by 25. We are a bit faster than Florida, so don't get flustered if they press us. Offensively, make crisp passes and trust your teammates. Do not get caught on the sideline if they decide to trap.
- Needless to say, everyone has to shoot well. If we shoot 55% as a team, we have an excellent shot. If anyone has an off night, its gonna be rough. Brooks or Porter cannot win this one by themselves.
- We've got to try to find a way to deny ball entry to the low post. Think about what Tim Pollitz of Miami did to us, and realize he's only 6'6". Now realize that Horford and Noah are 6'10" and 6'11" respectively. Front the post, and have the double team directly behind. If you double team, it better not be Lee Humphrey's man.
- Push the tempo. Its not that Florida doesn't want to play fast, they love playing that speed. But so do we. And with the shotblocking ability of Horford and Noah, any easy transition buckets are a blessing.
- Finally, don't be nervous and just play your game. Nobody expects Oregon to win. All the pressure is on Florida, and they have looked very vulnerable lately. If they make mistakes, make them pay, and don't let up. The three pointer is the great equalizer in college basketball, and if we can shoot well from distance, and hold our own in the other facets of the game, we have a good shot.